Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated the victims of Kenya’s past and present terror attacks Monday, and offered American support in the fight against an increasingly diffuse but perhaps more dangerous terror threat emanating out of Somalia. His trip to the African country coincides with improving U.S.-Kenyan ties and sets the stage for President Barack Obama’s visit this summer.
Kerry laid a wreath for the victims of the deadly 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and offered condolences to families and friends of the 148 people, mainly students, massacred at a Kenyan university last month.
The twin embassy attacks in Nairobi and the Tanzanian capital of Dar-Es-Salaam killed 224 people, the work of a rising al-Qaida just three years before the even deadlier Sept. 11 attacks against the U.S. homeland. Last month’s tragedy at Garissa University College was different, coming from an al-Shabaab network that is on the run in Somalia but expanding its activities elsewhere.
“Terrorists will always fail,” Kerry said at the site of the former embassy. “Yes, they can reduce a building to rubble. And yes, they can even deprive innocent people of their lives,” he said. “But they do not give anyone anything of what really makes life worthwhile.”
Americans and Kenyans have the power to fight back, Kerry emphasized, militarily and “through our unity and the character of our ideals.”
Earlier, he addressed the embassy’s current staff, which includes several employees that survived the attack 17 years ago. He praised their efforts.
Kerry’s presence in Kenya, however, comes shortly after a Justice Department decision not to award victims of the embassy bombings money seized from Sudanese accounts at a French bank. The U.S. says Sudan financed and supported the attacks in Kenya and Tanzania.
George Mimba, who headed embassy employees in Kenya at the time, said in statement that he and others were “deeply disappointed.”